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importing rich soil to infertile land?  RSS feed

 
steve perry
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Hello.
I am interested in permaculture for few years now and have been gardening in my home for a year, i am helping a novice friend to set up an acre homestead in Arizona Phoenix region, the soil is infertile and nothing would grow on it other than cactus so he was surprised when i suggested to that no fruit trees can be grown on the land until the soil is ready and that could take a year or two, he was disappointed then suggested that we dig about 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep, in 4 or 5 locations around the house and fill it up with good soil from the nursery, this way by the time his soil is ready to be planted on the rest of the property, these trees have bee5 trees are halfway there to give fruits and shading the house walls a bit from the sun.
i have used this technique with vegetable gardens, import a trunk and soil and start growing vegetables on very infertile soil but i never though of it for fruit trees, does anyone have an idea if it will work, or are you thinking like me that the land is lacking nutrients and it will suck up everything from the new imported soil and the tree will still die in few weeks?
Cheers
 
C. Letellier
Posts: 228
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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Need more information. Infertile how? Full of salt, full of rock, no organic or other problems?

In general the problem with planting in pockets is the tree can literally become pot bound in the new soil. It grows out and hits the bad and turns back to the good dirt. The recommended answer is to be sure the perimeter dirt is mixed well with the local so the transition is slow instead of sudden. But my experience is poor luck with this. Suggest pockets big enough to support the whole tree.

 
Rob Browne
Posts: 65
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia
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We really do need some more info here. Is the ground bare and baked? Is it compacted? Is there a slope or is it essentially level? Do you have access to some compost?

Now, after those questions and not knowing any answers I would hazard that some keylining like work to loosen the soil, even with a broad fork, with some swales to concentrate the water and some compost dug into the swale mound and lots of mulch in and on the swales should let you get a bit of a start with the fruit trees. If they are surrounded with pioneer species and, in the beginning, they had some shade cloth around them to protect them they should get started.

I would say start small, its a lot of work to get this happening, and work out in the intensive areas while the general work is going on over the whole site.

After saying that you are right and time is really the answer but most people want it now. A common problem really.



 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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We are so indoctrinated (brainwashed) to want quick fixes to everything. It took you twenty years of bad diet and lifestyle to create your health problems and expect one week on a diet to fix it. Same goes for nature. His land has had how many years of neglect? With money or creative sources for inputs, you can shortcut time to heal, but not eliminate it.

He will be better off planting pioneer support nitrogen fixers now and the fruit trees in 2-3 years than plant the fruit now. The ones planted in 3 years will probably bear fruit sooner than ones planted this year. Assuming it is only a fertility/organic matter problem. Other problems need corresponding solutions.
 
steve perry
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Thanks, i dont see any fruits coming from a tree if planted now, but probably to make him happy plant a small rooted fruit tree in a big enough imported soil and composted pit and see how it goes, it will be my first full permaculture design i am making, so i dont want to disappoint him or myself

This wont be the easier: The land is bare, dry, neglected, baked with just a few dry shrubs growing in some parts, flat and levelled, in the surrounding lands there are some massive tall trees growing, so it can be done we are just thinking about the right approach.
 
Zach Muller
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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I will have to agree with r Scott. It is not just permaculture wisdom, But classical wisdom that says slow and steady wins the race.

There is no reason you can't try a few trees in some imported nutrients, but keep in mind that it will take a lot of the available energy being given to the project, energy that could be used in a more efficient way. Also if the situation is as dire as it sounds, the tree will use up the imported goodness and either not produce or completely die, possibly taking the wind out of you and your friends sail. ( I know I can't stand watching a plant die that I want to live especially if I paid for it.) You can make your first design awesome and I am sure you can design something that will make your friend happy, just keep your options open and be realistic about the time frame. If your friend really wants fruit trees than he could just have potted trees for a few years while the land develops.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Cane berries do better than fruit trees in an artificial pot. You are likely to get some fruit after only two years.

 A big clump will do better than a row,  because they will protect themselves from the wind. The clump can be expanded whenever new organic material is found or imported. A berry patch will expand on its own and dead canes will add to fertility.

 If you eventually decide to kill the blackberries, the soil will be perfect for starting fruit trees.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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If it were me, I'd go ahead and import the nutrients and plant the trees. I'm presuming that water is one of the nutrients that you'll be importing. In the worst case scenario, the trees die. The nutrients and water that were added to the land don't magically wink out of existence. They still have a lasting impact on the local ecosystem.

 
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